Tennessee's neighboring states report first Omicron cases
It’s just a matter of time before Tennessee confirms its first Omicron case. As of Monday afternoon, three bordering states have identified cases of the new COVID variant.
First it was Missouri, which shares a small border with West Tennessee. The case was identified in St. Louis.
Then, over the weekend, Georgia found a case in Metro Atlanta.
And now Mississippi has identified an Omicron case.
Today the Mississippi State Department of Health reports the first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in the state. The case is in a fully vaccinated individual who recently traveled to New York. The patient was not hospitalized. Full story: https://t.co/TpG4HJeNW2 pic.twitter.com/USaLTqfvnt— MS Dept of Health (@msdh) December 6, 2021
If Omicron behaves anything like the Delta variant, it may spread through adjacent communities.
“Logic would tell us that people who live closer to those states may have a higher likelihood of having those variants first,” Dr. Lisa Piercey, Tennessee’s health commissioner, said during a briefing on Monday.
The Delta variant started in Memphis, and worked its way east over several weeks, ultimately leading to a surge that stressed hospital capacity in Tennessee even more than the spike of cases last winter.
It’s still unclear whether Omicron creates the same kind of severe disease. Right now, state officials say hospitals are prepared to handle it. While they have experienced a recent uptick in COVID patients, capacity is not a problem at the moment.
In recent weeks, northeast Tennessee has seen more cases and hospitalizations than the rest of the state. Health officials say they can’t explain why that would be, but genetic sequencing hasn’t found that Omicron is to blame at this point.